By John Keller
NORWOOD, Mass. - Leaders of Analog Devices Inc. are continuing plans to establish third-party Ada software support for the SHARC digital signal processor, despite the recent decision at the Pentagon to drop the military`s longstanding mandate to use Ada.
Executives of the Norwood, Mass., company had given serious thought to dropping their effort to find outside Ada support for the SHARC after DOD leaders dropped their mandate last spring.
Complicating the Analog Devices Ada strategy for SHARC was the purchase and assimilation of Ada vendor Tartan Inc., formerly of Monroeville, Pa., by Houston-based Texas Instruments. Tartan had provided reliable Ada support for many of TI`s DSPs, and was developing support for the SHARC when the TI purchase brought that project to an end.
Strong customer demand, however, is inducing Analog Devices officials to continue their search for Ada support, and are working with Intermetrics Inc. of Burlington, Mass., to offer Ada on the SHARC for beta test by spring 1998, and as a finished product by the second half of 1998, says Len May, the SHARC product marketing manager at Analog Devices.
"There is strong customer demand for Ada even after the defense mandate was dropped," May says. "Forty to fifty percent of our SHARC defense base is still asking for Ada support. Some of our customers say they have 400,000 to 500,000 lines of Ada code written, and they don`t want to convert to C."
May says he has technological reasons to continue Ada support for the SHARC, in addition to his business imperative. "Some of our customers prefer to develop in Ada because it is more structured and maintainable than C and C++," he says. "Ada 95 also does an excellent job of supporting multiprocessor environments, which is key to our military designs."
May points out that experts at Intermetrics played a lead role in developing the latest standard version of Ada, known as Ada 95. Tucker Taft, lead scientist at Intermetrics, was a member of the standards committees that crafted the Ada 95 extensions. One of the chief Ada support tools from Intermetrics is called AdaMagic.
"Marrying Intermetrics`s AdaMagic technology to the SHARC DSPs is a natural fit," Taft says. "As more and more mission-critical projects, military and otherwise, choose SHARC DSPs for raw power and multiprocessing, it becomes an obvious platform for development and an excellent market opportunity for technology."
"Intermetrics is porting Ada magic to our C back-end technology," notes May. "With this, customers will be able to combine Ada, C, and C++ in one program that is compatible with C and C++."
May says Analog Devices scientists are developing the second-generation SHARC DSP, which is to be code-compatible with the first-generation SHARC and will feature performance of 600 million floating point operations per second, with all the multiprocessing capabilities of the first- generation SHARC.
"All those military programs using SHARC will be able to carry over to the second generation of SHARC without code rewrite," he says.